Kansas Free for Arts, 7 E. 7th St., is hosting its semiannual concert series “Monkey Jams” at the Lyon County Historical Center, 711 Commercial St., Nov. 17 and Dec. 1. The event is free of charge.

“We want people to unplug,” said Hank Osterhouse, musician and owner of KFA. “We want people to get out of their homes and to participate with each other. (Monkey Jams) is also consistent with what we want to do in the grand scheme, which is to get people excited about art and music and contribute to what’s already happening in Emporia.”

The concert series is also intended to sponsor youth empowerment.

“We developed (KFA) with the concept to help fill gaps with (programs for youth). There’s a really big contingency in town that are my age, 35 plus, that have sort of taken the reigns for local business,” Osterhouse said. “But what young people have in terms of entertainment and programs is pretty limited.”

The Lyon County Historical Center wants to help fill in that market gap, according to Greg Jordan, executive director of the Lyon County Historical Center.

“We like to be involved in new and exciting things,” Jordan said. “(Concerts and art) are certainly cultural things, and that’s part of what we wanted to do when we moved into this new building (two years ago).”

Originally, the center did not plan on hosting concerts in their venues, according to Jordan. However, when an employee “broke into song” on the third floor, Jordan noticed the acoustics.

“It just seemed to be a natural fit,” Jordan said.

The reason the large festival did not happen originally was due to finances, according to Osterhouse. Osterhouse was inspired by events like Wakarusa and Austin’s City Limits, which both feature 50 plus acts.

“We wanted to see if we could do something like $1,000 a month instead of $1,000,000 a year to get a look at prospects,” Osterhouse said.

The KFA reached their financing goal recently and is putting on its first festival “Halfway to Everywhere” in August of 2019, according to Osterhouse.

“Monkey Jams” is being sponsored by the Emporia State Union Activities Council this year and is around $3,500 a concert, Osterhouse said.

The KFA is a non-profit organization and is funded through grants and local donations.

The next concert is Nov. 17 on the first floor of the Lyon County Historical Center featuring Me Like Bees, according to KFA’s Facebook page.

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